Somaliland & Eritrea Combo Tour
The Somaliland and Eritrea Combo is a tour of two of the planet’s least visited destinations.
We begin in the former British protectorate and self-declared republic of Somaliland. This de-facto state declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991; however, no international organization has recognized its sovereignty.
Next we move onto Eritrea. This fascinating country falls well below most travelers radars which makes it a unique off the beaten track experience. Eritrea boasts pristine coastline and untouched Red Sea islands as well as some of the best-kept colonial architecture in Africa. On top of all that we take part in the two-day festival to celebrate Eritrea’s independence!
The Eritrean capital city of Asmara is like a film set from an early Italian movie, with vintage Italian coffee machines and outstanding examples of Art-Deco architecture. Although the country faces numerous hardships, it paradoxically remains one of Africa’s most peaceful, secure and welcoming destinations.
Sunday 17th May
- Arrival in Hargeisa. We will provide an airport pick up.
- Dinner at a newly opened and popular Syrian restaurant run by refugees from Damascus. We’ll have a chance to chat with them and hear how they find life in Somaliland.
- After dinner you can walk around the bustling city center in Hargeisa and have chai with the friendly locals or do some shopping for t-shirts and flags for Independence Day.
Monday 18th May
- We’ll get up nice and early for a quick breakfast before hitting the streets to observe the military and civilian parades. Everyone will be dressed in the national colors on the street, and this is one of the only places on earth to take part in an Independence Day celebration in an unrecognized country!
- After lunch and a short break from the heat we’ll visit the Somaliland national museum and cultural center. A great place to chat to some local young people.
- We will have traditional dinner that evening and toast this small nation!
- Overnight in Hargeisa.
Tuesday 19th May
- Visit the two hills called Naaso Hablood (“Girl’s Breasts”), also known as Hargeisa’s main landmark. On the way we visit the cemetery for British Soldiers who died here battling against the Italians during the Second World War. Hargeisa is the former capital of British Somaliland, while Italy controlled what is now Somalia.
- We will have lunch at a Somali-Yemeni restaurant with some Somalilander intellectual icons who will give us the political, social, historical and cultural introduction of the country.
- We will then take a walking tour around the city center of Hargeisa to get a sense of the people and the city. Here you will see street money exchangers and their “chunk” of bills, the central market, and the MiG Jet fighter War Memorial which stands for the atrocities committed by the dictator during the Civil War.
- Visit to the busy market in downtown Hargeisa for some evening shopping and people watching.
- Dinner and overnight in Hargeisa.
Wednesday 20th May
- After breakfast we will visit the livestock market where you can purchase your own camel or goat! For those who can’t fit a camel in their luggage, this market will provide great photo opportunity and a chance to see how the locals do business.
- Afternoon visit to Laas Geel, the most important rock art site in Africa. These caves contain some of the oldest cave paintings on the horn of Africa. The vibrant colors and well-preserved paintings are estimated to be around ten thousand years old.
- Make the 60km drive back to Hargeisa and spend the evening at your leisure.
Thursday 21st May
- We will head to the most important port of Somaliland – Berbera. Upon our arrival, we will visit a historical Ottoman Mosque and Ottoman houses.
- Late lunch will be served at the Ottoman houses.
- We’ll take a short boat trip to go hunt for shipwrecks in the Gulf of Aden.
- We will relax and swim at an untouched beach, where local youth and families come and enjoy their down time. (Due to local culture, ladies will need to cover their body while in water.)
- Tour the historic town of Berbera in early evening, where you will find more Ottoman, Persian and British architecture of historic interest. This will be a great chance for some amazing photographs.
- We will have fresh seafood at the waterfront for dinner.
Friday 22nd May
- After breakfast, we will have free time in Berbera.
- We’ll drive to the small town of Sheikh in the mountains, stop for some afternoon tea, walk around and enjoy the pleasant climate.
- We’ll make the drive back to Hargeisa, followed by a last supper!
Saturday 23rd May
- End of Somaliland tour – continue onwards to Eritrea!
- Airport transfer to the airport to catch the afternoon flight via Addis to Asmara
- Check into Hotel
- Option to head into the city for dinner and drinks.
Sunday 24th May – Independence Day!
- For those brave enough there will be a 6am 21-gun salute to mark Independence Day.
- Free time to walk around the city after breakfast and mingle with locals.
- There will be various art exhibitions along the pedestrianized streets of the Main liberation avenue.
- After lunch, we join the celebrations along Harnet street.
- Dinner and drinks to close out the Independence celebrations at a traditional restaurant, where you can sample local dishes.
- Overnight at the hotel in Asmara.
Monday 25th May
- After breakfast we will have a walking tour of the center of town. We will see the spectacular modernist buildings of Asmara built by the Italians at the turn of the last century, such as the Post office built 1916, Albergo Italia built in 1899, the presidential palace built in 1907, and the Hotel Hamasien built in 1916.
- We check out the Tank graveyard where we can see wrecked tanks that were demolished during the war with Ethiopia.
- Visit the City Hall to see various photo displays in commemoration of the thirty-years bitter struggle and the post-independence progress. The City Hall was established by the Italians in 1890, and is one of the oldest institutions in Africa.
- Continue our tour of Asmara where we check out the various pre-Independence Day celebrations including modern and folklore dances.
- Walk up and down Harnet street where we will watch various dramas and performances.
- Festival continues into the night culminating in a massive fireworks show at midnight to celebrate independence.
Tuesday 26th May
- After a mini sleep in and some breakfast, we will board a 100 year old train and ride all the way to Nefasit.
- Along the way we will go through thirty tunnels. This is definitely a trip highlight!
- On board the train we will be offered a traditional coffee ceremony.
- Arrive back in Asmara
- Head to the incredible bowling alley for a step back in time.
- Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Wednesday 27th May
- Hit the road for the 3 hour drive to Massawa
- On arrival we’ll check in at our seaside hotel
- We’ll visit Gurgusum Beach, where we can swim and relax with local people.
- Walking tour to take in the unique mixture of Turkish and Italian architectural design.
- Dinner at the “Salam Restaurant”. Fresh fish prepared in a traditional oven. This is a real local experience.
- After dinner we explore the nightlife of Massawa and find some bars.
- Overnight in Massawa.
Thursday 28th May
- Take a boat to Dahlac Marine National Park, the Red Sea’s largest archipelago of which just four islands are inhabited.
- We visit ruins from the early Arabic/Islamic settlers of the 8th century.
- Those who have a diving license can experience a dive in the Red Sea! (additional cost for diving). Don’t dive? No problem – snorkeling equipment is also available.
- In late afternoon/early evening, we will make our way back to Massawa.
- Dinner, drinks, and overnight in Massawa.
Friday 29th May
- After a late breakfast, we will hit the road back to Asmara.
- Arrival in Asmara at around 4pm – we will have free time in Asmara before joining up for a farewell dinner. We may be lucky enough to watch football in the famous Cinema Roma or, if interested, have a chance to briefly talk about your country or profession to young Eritrean students.
- Dinner and group drinks in Asmara.
Saturday 30th May
- After breakfast we head to Keren city.
- Lunch in Keren
- Free time in this quaint town to check out the local markets and explore the lively streets.
- Drive back to Asmara and stop by some destroyed Ethiopian tanks along the way!
- Last group dinner and overnight in Asmara!
Sunday 31st May
- End of Somaliland and Eritrea Combo tour.
- Airport transfers available.